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Two Thirds Wary Of TPP That Allows Foreign Investors to Sue

Media release: FIRST Union
Wednesday December 12, 2012

Two Thirds Of New Zealanders Wary Of TPP That Allows Foreign Investors To Sue

A new poll shows two thirds of New Zealanders are wary of a Trans Pacific Partnership that has rules allowing corporations to sue governments.

A telephone survey conducted by Consumer Link asked respondents whether they would support New Zealand signing trade and investment treaties that would allow the government to be sued by foreign investors in private offshore tribunals.

64% of respondents said New Zealand should reject treaties with these clauses, and just 13% said we should sign them. 24% were unsure.

Investor state dispute settlement mechanisms are common in trade agreements promoted by the US, such as the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

Robert Reid, General Secretary of FIRST Union, said the poll demonstrated that New Zealand should follow Australia’s lead in rejecting the inclusion of these mechanisms in a TPP.

“The great myth promulgated by the branding of the TPP is that it is primarily about trade. The pervasive rules regarding investment are the ones that are most concerning,” Robert Reid said.

“Governments must be free to enact laws that meet the needs of their country, without the threat hanging over them of being sued in unaccountable, offshore tribunals.”

“Two years ago, John Key described the inclusion of investor-state enforcement powers in a TPP as “far-fetched” and said he expected New Zealand would support Australia’s position in rejecting such a mechanism.”

“The public clearly support this stance. John Key needs to explain which side he’s on,” Robert Reid said.

The telephone survey was conducted by Consumer Link (a part of Colmar Brunton Research). The results are un-weighted. The poll question is below.

Background to PM’s 2010 comments
Listen to the Prime Minister’s 2010 comments (at his post cabinet press conference) about investor state dispute settlement here: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/audio/1011/PMonAPECandTPP.mp3 on the Scoop website. Or watch the relevant questions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_OCDf_evaA Discussion is at 38 mins, 5 seconds, on the YouTube clip; the scoop audio is just the two minutes of the media conference relating to this issue.

Poll question:

New Zealand is currently negotiating a free trade and investment treaty with ten other countries called the Trans Pacific Partnership. As part of the negotiations, there is a proposal to allow foreign investors to sue governments in private offshore tribunals if government actions threaten their future profits. The US advocates it while Australia says it would not sign a deal with this in it. Which one of the following statements do you most agree with:

1 New Zealand should reject trade and investment treaties that would allow the government to be sued by foreign investors in private offshore tribunals - 64%
2 New Zealand should accept terms that would allow investors to sue the government in this way if that is what is required to get a Trans Pacific Partnership deal - 13%
3 No opinion / Can’t choose - 24%


The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 27,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz


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